• December 2014
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Applying HPC to Improve Business ROI

Scientific Computing (12/09/14) Suzanne Tracy

One of the goals of the recent SC14 conference on high-performance computing (HPC) was to assess the economic and scientific value of HPC systems. In particular, the event intended to help small and medium-size businesses and other users better understand the benefits of adopting HPC and to justify HPC investments. IDC’s Innovation Excellence Award Program recognized the achievements of several HPC users, such as researchers from Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who helped develop simulations for designing next-generation nuclear reactors based on computational fluid dynamics code Nek5000. Meanwhile, the Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine at Children’s Mercy Hospitals Kansas City was recognized for developing the first genome center inside a children’s hospital and one of the first to focus on genome sequencing and analysis for inherited childhood diseases. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Aeronautics Mission Research Directorate was honored for working to reduce aircraft noise, fuel consumption, and engine emissions though the use of simulations to render accurate representations of the aerodynamic mechanisms that generate airframe noise and to evaluate novel noise-reduction concepts for an aircraft’s flaps and landing gear.


SciServer: Big Data Infrastructure for Science

National Science Foundation (12/04/14) Mike Rippin; Aaron Dubrow

Johns Hopkins University researchers are adapting tools developed to handle massive astronomy data sets into online big data storage and analytics tools that can be used across scientific disciplines. The SciServer project, backed by the U.S. National Science Foundation, grew out of work done by Johns Hopkins’ Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), an ongoing effort to map the entire universe begun in 1998. The project has generated an enormous amount of data, now in excess of 70 terabytes, which has necessitated the development of tools that would make sharing and analyzing the data easier. The tools include the SkyServer website, the predecessor of SciServer, which enables users to navigate the night sky and search for information about stars and other objects. The SciServer researchers are taking the lessons learned with SkyServer, such as how to centralize data and make it easily and equitably accessible to all researchers, and applying them to other fields. The project began in 2013 and over the next four years new versions of SciServer targeting specific disciplines will roll out. The goal is to create a drop box-style cloud storage service that researchers can upload data into and use to search it and other datasets.


Intelligence Agency Wants an Even More Super Supercomputer

NextGov.com (12/03/14) Frank Konkel

A new computer program of the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) could fundamentally change the field of supercomputing. The Cryogenic Computer Complexity (C3) program will use recent breakthroughs in superconducting technologies to find a long-term successor to complementary metal-oxide semiconductor technology-based machines, which are becoming unmanageable. “Computers based on superconducting logic integrated with new kinds of cryogenic memory will allow expansion of current computing facilities while staying within space and energy budgets, and may enable supercomputer development beyond the exascale,” says IARPA’s Marc Manheimer. IARPA has awarded research contracts to teams led by IBM, Raytheon-BBN, and Northrop Grumman. C3 will develop critical components for memory and logic subsystems and plan a prototype computer. The goal is to integrate the components into the world’s first superconducting supercomputer. The machine would be smaller, require less physical infrastructure to cool, and would have a smaller energy footprint than current supercomputers.


The Race Towards Quantum Computation

CORDIS News (11/27/14)

At the recent Innovation Summit, European quantum computing experts touted the European Union’s (EU) achievements in the field and called for further EU investments in quantum computing research and development. The Delft University of Technology’s Lieven Vandersypen predicted future Nobel Prizes would be awarded to Europeans for achievements in quantum computing research. Vandersypen and University College London’s John Morton said quantum computing will unlock tremendous potential for developing new medicines and complex materials, new diagnostic tools, and energy technologies. However, both said the EU is in danger of falling behind other nations. Morton noted the EU leads all other regions in terms of academic output regarding quantum technologies, but is falling behind in patenting quantum technologies; for example, China patented five times more quantum technologies than the EU between 2009 and 2012. Morton suggested the EU create an advisory board for quantum technology with at least 50-percent representation from the information technology industry to help guide the development and commercialization of quantum technologies. Vandersypen called for a “large-scale EU-wide effort” similar in scale to the Human Brain Project, which is pushing forward brain science.